The Bottom Line Certified Is Not Qualified
In a guest blog for the Christensen Institute, Ben Kutylo, Co-Founder and President of Fremont Street, writes of the importance on teaching and rethinking the education system with teachers as the focal point. Discussing a study done last September, Kutylo states, “authors interviewed teachers to discover what motivates them to adopt new approaches to instruction.” He notes that “teaching is the most important factor impacting student learning. Besides parents, educators know students best.”
The American Center for Transforming Education shares Kutylo’s aim to improve the quality of our teaching corps. However, the blog neglects one of the biggest issues with our current teachers: the way we select and train our teachers. Kutylo argues that “change efforts [should] start with teachers—rather than with models or programs determined by leaders— [because] they tap into teachers’ natural motivation to find solutions that work for them and their students.” But he laments that “historically, top-down change doesn’t include teachers until implementation”. Undoubtedly teachers should have the ability to be innovative within the classroom, but change cannot start with the teachers due to the way our current system is set up.
To insure all teachers are qualified, we need to change the way they are selected and trained. Eliminating certification laws would be an appropriate first step. As senior fellow Don Nielsen describes, “certification laws are the ‘gatekeeper’ of education, and these laws are keeping the most qualified people out of the profession. Eliminating, or substantially modifying, certification laws is the fastest way to correct all of these teaching-quality problems and to enhance the stature of the teaching profession.”
In an article in Education Week entitled “Teachers Want to Lead Their Profession’s Transformation,” [Authors, Geneviève DeBose, Claire Jellinek, Greg Mullenholz, Shakera Walker, & Maryann Woods-Murphy] found that “about 62 percent of all new teachers – almost two thirds – report they felt unprepared for the realities of their classroom.” Evidently, this staggering number shows the problem that circulates through our educational crisis is not that we don’t have motivated teachers, but that “top down” change does not work.
Change needs to start at the bottom: the desires, incentives, and opinions of grassroots backers such as learners, teachers, and the parents of school going children must be understood. But this cannot happen until we rid ourselves of many of the constraints now built into the system.